KUWAIT CITY, (AP) – Kuwait’s information minister resigned Sunday, a day before he was scheduled to be questioned in parliament over allegations that he tried to restrict satellite TV stations during this year’s legislative elections.
Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi announced the resignation of Mohammed al-Sanoussi and said it had been accepted. He told reporters the minister quit because he wanted to avoid “tension” between the legislative and executive powers.
Deputy Prime Minister Ismail al-Shatti confirmed that al-Sanoussi’s resignation had been accepted, the official Kuwait News Agency reported.
The government usually pre-empts ministerial questioning by having ministers resign, reshuffling the Cabinet or even dissolving the legislature.
Al-Sanoussi, a liberal who was reappointed information minister after the June elections, has denied he curbed the private TV channels, saying that he only asked them to apply for licenses.
In Kuwait, all publications and broadcasting media have to be licensed.
Several privately owned satellite stations, operated from abroad, appeared in Kuwait before the June elections, broadcasting interviews with opposition figures and covering the campaign. Most subsequently went off the air.
Al-Sanoussi’s main rival in parliament, Islamist lawmaker Faisal Al-Mislim, claimed al-Sanoussi wrote to the Interior Ministry, asking it to find out who owned the new TV stations so that this “sensitive and dangerous” situation could be dealt with.
“What the information minister did was against the principles of freedom, and against the constitution that guarantees freedom of speech, expression and publication,” the lawmaker said in his written request to question al-Sanoussi.
The hard-line Islamic legislator also accused the minister of failing to suppress publications that were anti-Islamic and promoting “vice.” He did not give examples.